Have you ever known anyone to seek out a counselor because of a problem with pride? Me neither. Fear, maybe, but pride, never. Yet fear and pride are closely related. They are common conditions often feeding each other in a vicious circle, and are the root of most sin. We all have our fears, but are generally too proud to acknowledge most of them. We can easily spot pride in others, but rarely see it in ourselves, and even then would probably afraid to admit it.
The reason people lie, cheat, and steal is fear and pride.
They fear that they can’t get ahead, that they don’t measure up or fit in. They fear being poor, or hungry, or left out. Being too proud to be seen as poor, hungry, left out, or in any way in need, they feel that they must put up an image of superiority, competence or sophistication. To keep up the image they cut corners as they lie, cheat, and steal.
The reason people don’t lie, cheat, and steal is also fear and pride.
The fear that they will be caught, look bad, or embarrass themselves keeps them from cutting corners. They have pride that “their kind of people” don’t do those kind of things. They also take pride in being a good person, or at least keeping up that impression so that they do not let down their family or tribe. Fear and pride work together to keep them on the straight and narrow.
Religious people are not exempt. Many attend worship or pray because of fear and pride. They fear that God will punish them if they don’t. They fear that they won’t measure up or fit in. They take pride in how righteous they are, even to the extent that they are morally superior because they attend a church, synagogue or mosque.
Muslims believe that they will go to paradise based on the good works that they do. The only problem is that they won’t know if they’ve done enough until after they’ve already died. So they live in fear that they haven’t done enough.
Many professing Christians are much the same way. They believe that they are good people and hope they will go to heaven. This transactional approach reasons that if you pray enough, are sincere enough, love God enough, (or you fill in the blank enough) He will reward you with His grace and love.
You don’t have to live that way. The truth is that salvation and the abundant life are not the result of what we do but on what Christ has done for us on the cross. Therefore, worship should not be a grueling duty but a joyful expression as we come into the presence of a Holy God. Remember and be reminded! Don’t forget the joy of Easter worship and continue to reflect that joy each time you lead in worship.